As a pet sitter and owner of a pet sitting company I am in a position to see how a great number of animals deal with the anxiety of being separated from their owners. Luckily, because of my dog training background and animal behavior background I’m also in a position to know how to best help pets deal with being alone.
First off, let’s define separation anxiety. This is an often misused term as true separation anxiety is an actual chemical imbalance where the dog or pet in question can not deal with the stress of being alone in the same way that a normal animal could.
True separation anxiety is actually quite rare. More often than not what pets have is anxiety caused by separation; in other words a training problem that can be helped with training or management and not an actual disorder.
For the purposes of this article and in relation to pet sitting I’ll be using the term separation anxiety to mean any sort of nervousness associated with being alone. Here are some tips for dealing with this problem:
1- Routine and schedule are key. In most cases your schedule doesn’t need to be set in stone but there are certain things that should happen at key points throughout the day. Your pet should generally be fed at certain times, go to bed at certain times, get walks at certain times, etc. Having a schedule to rely on is helpful and many of our pet sitter clients will have us come to their homes on a schedule to make sure the animal is properly taken care of.
2- Exercise your pet. Dog walking and other activities for dogs and other pets is critical. Exercise has the ability to release chemicals in the blood stream which are calming and fulfilling. Hire a dog walker if you aren’t able to exercise your animal.
3- Mental stimulation. In the case of cats or dogs this can be important. Dogs need daily training and the idea of just having a cat sitting around all day is not a good one. Give your buddy something to do with his or her mind and it will go a long ways in dealing with anxiety. If you can’t provide this during the day hire a pet sitter or pet sitting company to come to your home to provide this for your animal.
If you can follow these simple guidelines and use common sense it is likely that your pet will be in much better shape to handle the anxiety of being left alone.